cover image End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood

End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood

Jan Redford. Counterpoint, $26 (344p) ISBN 978-1-64009-030-9

With a wonderful combination of adventure and introspection, outdoor writer Redford tells of a life lived on the fringes of society and in the heights of the Banff mountains in British Columbia. Her love of climbing began in 1974 when, as a 14 year old, she shrugged off a fear of falling and free climbed a cliff “four times as high as” her house. The sense of achievement and approval she got from subsequent successful climbs pushed her into a life of adventure. In her early 20s she fell in love with fellow climber Dan, but he soon died in an avalanche. She found comfort in one of Dan’s friends, an extreme climber named Grant; they married, had two children, and she got a teaching degree and taught elementary school. As Redford reflects on the evolution of both her marriage and her professional life, her prose seamlessly moves from witty and gutsy to introspective and sad (“[I] sat on the edge of the mattress, my knee bouncing up and own like it did when I was scared out of my mind on a climb”). She divorced in middle age and became a single mother; it was then that she took lessons learned from climbing and quit teaching to pursue writing. Redford’s is a truly inspiring and honest account of what it means to be a strong woman who can reach new heights because she isn’t afraid to fall. (May)